Sunday, September 27, 2009


Tempus Fugit, My Friends

Boy, has it been six months already? Where does the time go? It seems like only yesterday that we were sitting here catching up on old times and now it I guess it's time to do it again.

In some ways, a lot has happened this summer and in others, not so much. We left Texas in May, made our way northeast to visit LeAnna's family, and then onward to Ohio to spend the summer with my parents. We were expecting to hear good things from Social Security this summer. Well, we were half right. I did get a favorable decision, and I started getting monthly checks, but for some reason it seems there were was some kind of blockade stopping my getting the back pay.

We had a myriad of projects to keep ourselves occupied with during the summer. We made two new couches, with accompanying throw pillows, of course. I made a new dog bed, I sewed tablecloths for my dad's booth at the flea market, in fact, I think I did more sewing this summer than I have my entire life. I sewed so much. I actually wore a sewing machine out. Okay well...It was a used sewing machine when I got it, but still...

Since my machine was broke down, I put the rest of the sewing jobs on the back burner and attended to some other items on the list. I made valances for all the windows, remade a cabinet interior to better suit our needs, and made a small enclosed shelf for our DVR. One day, as I was changing oil or something, my dad comes out to tell me there was a sale on sewing machines at one of the local shops. Since he appreciated all the work I'd been doing for him, he said that we would go down and look at the machines and if we found one at a reasonable price, he'd buy it for me. In the back of my mind I was wondering if there was something not quite right about a 50-year-old heterosexual man being excited at the thought of getting a new sewing machine.

Sew So, off to the store we went. I won't bore you with the details of looking at the various machines, just suffice it to say that I walked out the proud owner of a new Bernina model 56. NO, not a Beretta...a Bernina.

The new machine runs like a champ and I actually think I sew faster, better and can actually jump higher. Well, not as high as she's going to jump, but you get the picture. So, filled with the fervency of my foray into fabulous fabrication, I once again began to sew.

LeAnna has been harping mentioning that she would like to have cloth grocery bags...for quite some time now. I did already have the plans for them, so we went in search of discount material. I thought we'd never be able to make them cheaper than the quality craftsmen that Wal-Mart uses. I was pleasantly surprised to find that we actually could make them for about $1 each. And the plus side is we can make them in a variety of colors and patterns!

I decided that while we had slack time in "drydock" I would do a couple of projects I've been dreading putting off for a long while. One of our exhaust manifolds has been leaking for a while now, in need of a new gasket. It was coming to the top of the list now, and I could no longer put it off.

After several attempts, I finally got the part I needed. You'd think having a part number would make things easier. Apparently the only thing it does is makes the counter person work harder to come up with a reason why your part number is no good.

I got the thing fixed, though. Since we were still awaiting word on the back pay, I filled my days with routine maintenance on our rig and my nights with drinking other mindless activities.

After what seemed like a thousand trips to the local Social Seurity office, coaxing, pleading and basically having to do their work for them, I was finally successful in prying the check from their cold, cold hands.

So at long last we have an end to this five year travisty. I said "travesty", not missi...well I guess it was kind of a mission at that. Anyway, after the check cleared we immediately headed to the local toy store where we bought this, this, and two of these. Yes, in red. Red ATV and both I did go for the understated "pewter" for the trailer, however. Why be a complete show off? Besides, it goes better with our coach.

As I write, we are awaiting the delivery of the second scooter. After which, we have just 2 weeks to paint the inside of the trailer, build shelving and load all our crap up so we can hit the road. Oh, yeah...we also have to make an overnight trip to Camping World in Indy to have an overdrive unit put on our rig. That'll play a pivotal role in our ability to get that huge (20') toy box moving smoothly down the pike.

We're heading out of here on the 16th of October for Benson, AZ. We finally got the job we've been interested in for the past couple of years. It's Butterfield RV Resort. LeAnna will be playing the part of entertainment director while yours truly will be volunteering to help out in the observatory with the resident astronomer! They have a pretty large scope there and I will be in charge of it four nights a week! That's right "Large and in charge".

We're going to be making a couple of detours to see friends and family on the way down. We expect to be there on the 26th, so it should be a fairly easy trip (he says with fingers crossed).

Until me meet again....

Sunday, April 12, 2009


A Phone Changing Experience

Have you ever acquired something that, up until the point you got it, seemed to be a "meh" thing, only to find out after you get it that you don't know how you ever lived without it? Ladies & gentlemen, such a thing is...The BlackBerry Storm.

What, you ask, is "The BlackBerry"? (And, yes, it's mandatory that it be called "The BlackBerry", kinda like saying "Chuck Norris" or "Steve McQueen".) More than a mere cell phone, The Blackberry is a geek-link between mere mortals and the techno world that surrounds us.

Of course it's a phone, but that's just where it begins. With The Blackberry you can take & store pictures. "Big deal", you say, "My phone does that". Yes, but The Blackberry has a 3.2 megapixel camera and a 3.25" screen to look at those pix. Oh does video, too.
I know!!

"But Mark, where does the 'geek-link' thing come in"? Ok, how about this...not only does it show pictures and video, it plays movies & it can stream videos and TV from the web, 'cause it gets internet! The Blackberry will also play live radio from 100's of stations all over the world. And you never have to worry about data charges with The Blackberry, 'cause IT'S FREE!!

Using the internet is pretty sweet too. There is an onscreen pop-up keyboard that is actually pretty functional. The BlackBerry has THE BEST picture resolution of any phone currently on the market, so not only do your videos and pix look crisp, you can actually see the web pages you are surfing.

Also, using the net and built in GPS, it can get maps, it knows where you are & can show you everything from gas (with prices) and eats to shopping and campgrounds. It even will search out things like festivals or movies and give you descriptions of the movies, the show times, directions to the theaters and ticket prices. It will not only give you a map to & from, but will talk you through a turn by turn navigation.

Hold on a minute, I gotta wipe some drool off the keyboard.

Of course you can do all the other dumb junk like record voice reminders to yourself and make To Do lists, but this thing also runs Microsoft applications like Word, Excel, and Powerpoint! gaak! *sorry I got excited again*.

What in the wide world of sports could possibly top that? Close, but no. I'll tell ya what tops that...

I get my email right off the phone, in real time. I can send and receive text, picture, and video messages. With The Blackberry, you can instant message on AOL, Yahoo, Google Talk, Windows Live, & Blackberry Messenger, all for free! It has an internet browser that allows you to see web pages in the same format that you would see them on your computer. None of that "mobile browser" chop and missing images for me.

The Blackberry has 128mb of flash memory for the operating system, and has a further 1gb for running applications. On top of that it comes with an 8gb memory card that is dedicated strictly to user junk. So I could put a couple o' thousand songs on, or almost 4000 pictures, or...well you get the idea. If there ever comes a time when 8gb isn't enough, I can get a 16gb card for about $60.

Let's put it this way...I have 195 songs, 8 full length movies, five 1hr TV shows, a few dozen pictures and some ring tones on mine, and it's just about 2/3 full. No really!

Oh yeah, did I mention you can make your own ring tones for free? Any part of any song, up to 30 seconds long. Good-bye ring tone vendors.

For those of you who are into the social networking scene, The BlackBerry comes preloaded with applications for Facebook and Flickr, and supports My Space as well, definitely a plus in LeAnna's book.

Actually The BlackBerry has so many features, if I had listed the stuff it can't do, this post would have been done a long time ago.

OK...I gotta go now. The Blackberry and I have stuff to do...

LeAnna told me to let you know she would have put her two cents in about it, but she was too busy with The Blackberry. Maybe we could get her to phone it in?

Until next time...
Dong ibedi

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Let's Put This Puppy To Bed

OK...I really want to get this trip finished before it's time to hit the trail again, so let's get busy people!

So day 36 finds us in the parking lot of "Americas Outdoor And RV Store", better known as Camping World. I should mention here that the trip thus far has been sans air conditioning. In one of those freak occurrences that sometimes freakishly occur, our unit went on hiatus just days before we left South Dakota. *sigh* After our generous outlay to the veterinarian and the cost of fuel to get down here...well let's put it like this, we weren't scraping it, but I could see it from here. No problem, I sez. Since it's going to be winter time, we won't need A/C until next year. That'll give us plenty of time to save up. WRONG. This part of Texas actually has decent weather right through the winter. Nice on the one hand...not so nice on the other. Here it was October for cripes sake and it's still in the 90's! I realized a major decision was at hand. While it was true we needed steps, we really needed an air conditioner. Me being the major decision maker that I am, I followed the only logical course of action.

A/C it was. Leaping from our entryway, we gained entrance to the repository of all things RV. We decided to browse a bit before biting the bullet, hoping to alleviate some of the sticker shock I knew we were headed for. There were a myriad of products that the RV'er in the know simply just couldn't do without. *ahem* Yes...well I'll try to get along without that one. SO, having meandered around the store, we could dillydally no longer. Having informed the young man behind the counter of our wants and needs, he informed us of what he wants and (k)needs. (See what I did there? Needs...knees...*sigh*). OK, so needless to say it was quite a bit more than we had planned. We took a brief time out to talk it over with one another and decided that if we cut back on what we ate...and only ate every other day, we could swing it.

To make matters worse, they couldn't get us in that day. We would have to get it done the next morning. So we took advantage of their parking lot for some of that "free camping". I figured we'd just be in a parking space along side the rigs of others waiting for work. But, lo and behold, we found a place to pull up where there was actually a picnic table...of sorts. It was the break area for the workers. But no workers tonight! So it was entirely for our perusal. And here's a secret...They have electric hookups, for a few people. I saw a 30 amp cord laying along side the building and checked it out to find it was plugged in! Hey, we were gonna have TV and microwave popcorn tonight without having to run our generator! Oh, how you learn to appreciate those little things.

That evening, while we enjoyed some postprandial libations, I studied the steps. Breaking out my large crescent wrench I began to bend them back into some semblance of what they once were. I thought if we were going to have to live with them for a while, I'd better try to make them serviceable. A couple of beverages later, I had those steps looking like new something that could work...for a while...maybe. Anyway, they folded down and back up again, and that's something they wouldn't do previously. So it looked like things were starting to look up.

We arose to the sweet sounds of air tools removing tire lugs. Eating a quick breakfast, we made for the check-in desk in the service area. Surrendering the keys to our portative palace, we settled in the waiting area. Five minutes later we were bored. So we decided to check out the rigs in the "used" lot. Some were big, some were small. Some were nice, others not at all. (Apologies to the Doctor.) Anywho (See what I did there?), we finally were done and it was time to leave. All kidding aside, it was a good thing our destination was within reach of the tank of gas we had on board. And arrive we did. We chose a spot that seemingly no one else wanted and have loved it here. LeAnna went to work the very next week and we lived happily ever after.

Come back next time when I think of something entirely different to ramble on about...


Monday, December 15, 2008


My First Visit With The Doctor

No, not that doctor...this one. Yep, we stopped at "The World Famous Dr Pepper Museum" in Waco, Texas.

Dr. Pepper, aka Dr. Charles Alderton, was a Waco native working in a corner drugstore. It seems that ol' Charlie was looking to pioneer a new type of laxative and decided to try carbonating prune juice. Well, that worked very well. So well in fact, that the whole business was stolen right out from under him by a Mr. Lazenby, who later had a career as James Bond, before moving into the more lucrative field of Prince Charles impersonators. Not to outdone by this "flash-in-the-pan" Bond, our own "Big Tam" decided to have a go of his own at the "wearing of the green".

OK, OK...I was just kidding. George Lazenby really never had a "career" as Bond. After all, he only did one movie. If you're interested in the real story of how Dr Pepper got its start, look here. So, we really did go to the museum and although I have never had a Dr Pepper in my life I thought it was pretty interesting. I figured if I was to have my first taste of this singular soda, what better place to have the experience than where it all started?

Admission to the museum is $6 for adults. It was a good thing I had this valuable coupon. It was a bad thing that I left it in the motorhome and ended up having to pay full price. I guess I won't be getting that new set of golf clubs this year. As we make our way into the museum, we pass a mockup of the outside of the old corner drugstore. Inside there is a replica of the soda fountain that Charlie used to work at. Also there is a room that houses the original bottle washing machine, cappers and the like. Original old bottles and signs are everywhere.

I think the second floor was my favorite. There was a 1924 pickup truck in a scene representing a 1930’s rural general store. There was also a whole area dedicated to Schweppes products. But the best thing about the second floor was a seating area in front of a TV playing DP commercials from the past. We watched the entire loop, which lasted a good ten minutes...and laughed...and reminiscenced. (Is that a real word?)

The third floor was dedicated to Dr Pepper's top salesman, W. W. "Foots" Clements. This guy ate, drank, and breathed Dr Pepper. Talk about an ambassador. Of course he really had little choice in the matter. Ya see, Foots wanted to be an actor, but lost his bid for stardom to this man. So, he threw himself whole-heartedly into touting Dr Pepper. The guy was so good at promoting the product that he started moving up in the company, ending up as an executive. They had a replica of his office there.

One whole wing of the building was dedicated to diet soft drinks. You name it, they had a can or bottle of it. Lots I had seen as a kid and some I'd never heard of.

After browsing the obligatory gift shop, it was finally the time we had both been waiting for. No, not was time for...The Tasting! This was to be a treat in more ways than one. First, it would be my pioneering foray into the taste of Dr Pepper and second, they made it the old fashioned way. Yep, no twisting a lid or popping a tab for me! The girl behind the counter pumped some syrup into the glass and, holding the glass under the fountain, she first pulled the handle back, dispensing the water, then pushed it forward, for the carbonation part. I refrained from calling her a "real jerk" as she was young enough to probably not get the reference.

The moment of truth was at hand! As a true connoisseur and pop snob, I sniffed the glass to appreciate the nose and bouquet of the potation. (hmmm...smells like pop.) Oh well, down the hatch. Strangely enough, it tasted like pop...Cherry Coke, to be exact. All these years of not drinking Dr Pepper because I'd heard it either was or tasted like, carbonated prune juice and here it tastes like Cherry Coke. Huh...Who knew? Oh yeah, I forgot...I don't like Cherry Coke. Oh well, nothing lost then, eh?
Me, trying the beverage.

After finishing our bevvies we head out to the roaming ranch. The one with the snafued steps...still. (For those of you who haven't been following along, or if you've forgotten the tragety of the treads, see this.) I've actually gotten quite adept at getting through the door and I barely have to pull LeAnna up anymore. Amazing how a hand-up by the hair gives one motivation. Still, she is giving me subtle hints about getting the steps "Hey when are we gonna get the steps fixed?" Yeah, I like a girl that's ethereal.

Next stop..."America's RV and Outdoor Store".

Be there or be...not there, I guess.
I bid you Adéu

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Where The Hell Have You Been?

I know many of you have had this same question on your mind. Well, I was...around. OK, I really don't have much of an excuse for falling off the Blog Wagon, as it were, but I'm back now. So let's try to continue on as if nothing has happened.

Day one hundred fourteen seven(b). After leaving the Bureau Of Engraving, we ventured forth into a realm of existence that can only be described as "nirvana" (not the band, some other one...loads). I'm speaking of Pendery's World of Chiles & Spices, a paradise of pleasure, a bountiful bastion of bliss, a humble hunk of heaven, a....well, you get the idea. Pendery's is located on eighth avenue in Fort Worth, not exactly the downtown business district, but sometimes you gotta make a trek for taste, a peregrination for piquancy, a...OH OK! I'll stop with the alliteration already!.

At first I was a bit apprehensive upon seeing the business was actually run out of an old converted duplex house. Upon entering, all my solicitude disappeared into the wafting aroma of spice. While it was only seven small rooms, every one was packed to the gills with multitudinous varieties of chilies both dried and ground. There were jalapeno, habanero, serrano, even dried sweet green pepper. There were hundreds of varieties I'd never heard of, each packaged either whole or ground in a vacuum sealed pouch. If you care anything at all about spicy food, you owe it to yourself to visit the web site and download a copy of the catalog in PDF form. You will find books and recipes as well as the obligatory hot sauces in a hundred flavors. Pendery's isn't just about chilies, they have a variety of other foods such as jellys, candies, and nuts. Hell, they even have decorator items and kitchen utensils.

Finally we decided which of the several thousand items we would choose to take home with us. Not an easy decision by any means. In my mind, I kept wanting to say "I'll have one of each, my good man.", but I knew that wasn't possible. After gathering our purchases we headed back to the motor home, which I had so carefully parked long ways tacking up several parking spaces so as to not be blocked in. As our motor mansion came into view I uttered a rash of expletives that would have made any sailor proud. Parked not 10ft. from the front of our bus was an automobile. "I'm gonna do it." I said to LeAnna, "I'm gonna ventilate his side walls." You want to piss me off to no end? Park your car in front of me after my taking pains to park out of the way. You see, the thing about a motor home pulling a car on a tow bar is that you can't back it up. I'm sure at this point LeAnna was saying something rational, but I couldn't hear what it was. I shifted our bags to one hand and began reaching for my knife with the other.

That's the moment that time began to slow, kinda like it does in those horror movies. There I was, inching closer and closer, the camera following me from behind as I fumble for my knife. Just as I reach the rear bumper of the car I notice two things. One, the car had some sort of official markings on the door. And secondly, was that there was a head, lying on the seat. No, not like wasn't exactly lying on the seat, it was more like resting against the head rest. Yep, it was a security guard...sleeping. Now I was really pissed. Not only was there someone parked in front of me, but I wasn't even going to get to slash his tires.

As I approached his window I was thinking to myself "WWBD?". DAMN RIGHT!! He'd get that bullet out and show this guy who's boss. I judiciously decide that the more prudent thing to do would be to just scare the shit outta him tap on the glass and get him to move. *sigh*
ME: "Uh, sir...would you mind moving for me so I can get out?"
HIM: "What? Oh problem *cough cough* pussy *cough*."
In my mind I'm giving this guy the famous Fife karate chop...yep, muh whole body's a weapon.

(On a side note here, I looked for over 20 minutes for an image of Barney Fife doing his Karate chop and couldn't find anything. If you have this or a link to it, please let me know.)

So we throw our stuff in the house and motor out of Ft. Worth towards our stay-over at the Flying J in Waco, TX.

When we catchup with each other again, (hopefully soon), I'll tell you about my first visit to the doctor - in my life...honest!

Y'all come back now, ya hear?

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